Taras Smerechanskyy, a Democratic candidate in the 10th Councilmanic District, last Wednesday dropped out of the race.
Smerechanskyy’s exit leaves Ward 66-B committeewoman and Garces Events executive Judy Moore as the only candidate in the May 21 primary. She’ll face Republican Councilman Brian O’Neill in the general election.
Each candidate for district Council races is required to file 750 valid nominating petitions, along with various paperwork.
Smerechanskyy, a Ukraine native now living in Bustleton and working as a financial auditor, enlisted the help of his wife, family and friends to collect signatures. He also hired a Southwest Philadelphia consultant named Rasheen Crews, who has been accused by some of his clients this year of submitting forged or photocopied signatures.
Smerechanskyy said Crews didn’t turn in any petitions for him, adding that the consultant failed to submit, as required, the candidate’s statement of financial interest to the city Department of Records.
“He really screwed things up for me,” he said.
Attorney Kevin Greenberg, an election law expert working for Moore, noticed that Smerechanskyy did not file his statement of financial interest to the records department. That is an automatic disqualifier, so the candidate decided it wasn’t worth a costly legal fight.
Greenberg also planned to challenge most of Smerechanskyy’s 1,300-plus signatures.
Meanwhile, lawsuits are expected against Crews by multiple candidates.
Smerechanskyy would like restitution.
Smerechanskyy, a 56th Ward committeeman, had the support of his ward leader, John Sabatina Jr. He called Moore last Tuesday night to tell her he was dropping out. He plans to support Moore because he believes it’s time for a change in the 10th district.
Bill Heeney, a Republican candidate for Council at large, is calling for property tax reduction for city residents who pay out of pocket to educate their children.
Heeney is proposing a 20-percent property tax reduction to city homeowners who pay tuition costs to educate their children in parochial and private school systems. Heeney believes that it is unfair for homeowners to be burdened with paying taxes for public schools that they do not use, believe in or trust.
Heeney further believes that the School District of Philadelphia is top heavy with bloated, unnecessary salary and benefit packages that are draining resources that would be best utilized by teachers who are in need of many basic tools necessary to educate.
“It is time for an independent forensic audit of the School District of Philadelphia,” Heeney said.
About 55 percent of property taxes go to the school district. The rest go to the city’s general fund.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Saturday endorsed Common Pleas Court Judge Dan McCaffery, of East Torresdale, for a seat on Superior Court.
The Democrats also endorsed Pittsburgh lawyer Amanda Green-Hawkins.
McCaffery, brother of former Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, was rated “Highly Recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission.
Green-Hawkins was rated “Not Recommended.” The commission “finds the candidate has not had the experience and preparation necessary to take on the role of judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court and, therefore, does not recommend her candidacy at this time.”
Matt Wolfe, a Republican candidate for Council at large, denounced Council’s decision to declare March 15-17 as “Meek Mill Weekend.”
“This is a disgrace on so many levels,” Wolfe said. “This is a slap in the face to Philadelphia’s Irish community. I am proud of my Irish heritage, and St. Patrick’s Day is our day.”
Wolfe said City Hall gives no consideration to the Irish community when making decisions.
“Even putting aside the conflict with St. Patrick’s Day, should City Council be spending their time honoring a convicted felon? Philadelphia has real problems – high taxes, unemployment, crime, drugs, etc. – and the fact that they spend their time honoring a rapper is ridiculous. But it is obvious that this is an attempt by incumbents on Council – each of whom will have an opponent in the upcoming elections – to appear ‘hip’ to what they perceive as a younger voter base. Simply put, City Hall is using their positions to increase their chances of re-election – which is a betrayal of the public trust – but has also made Philly a national embarrassment, again, in doing so.”
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers endorsed Mayor Jim Kenney in the May 21 Democratic primary.
“Mayor Kenney has the support of Philly’s educators because he has more than kept his promise to improve Philly’s schools,” said PFT President Jerry Jordan, “Since taking office, he helped break a five-year stalemate between the District and the PFT, paving the way for a new contract. He also established the community schools model in Philly, expanded the number of quality pre-K seats, and returned our school district to local control.”
Kenney will face former City Controller Alan Butkovitz and state Sen. Anthony Williams in the primary.
Williams entered the race last week.
Harrison Morgan, a Kenney campaign spokesman, said, “Voters spoke clearly back in 2015 when they elected Mayor Kenney over Sen. Williams by a margin of 30 points. Since then, the mayor has broadened his coalition by taking on entrenched special interests to provide free pre-K for thousands of children and invest hundreds of millions in new funding for our schools.
“Mayor Kenney continues to focus on ambitious plans aimed at addressing our biggest challenges, including the epidemic of violence. Despite his highly misleading criticisms about the mayor’s record, Sen. Williams enters this race with even less support than he had four years ago.”
Justin DiBerardinis, a Democratic candidate for Council at large, was endorsed by the 1st Ward.
“Justin recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis,” said ward leader Adams Rackes. “That he had the courage to speak out directly and forcefully against the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility told me he will stick to his principles and take on powerful interests like fossil fuel corporations. And he is absolutely right that both ecological devastation and economic inequality demand a vigorous public-sector response that creates family-sustaining work and builds sustainable common wealth.”
DiBerardinis was also endorsed by 215 People’s Alliance, an independent community-based organization fighting for racial and economic justice. Executive committee member Kia Philpot said, “Justin has been instrumental in helping working-class folks navigate the often-times confusing workings of City Hall politics for a long time. His support has enabled community organizers to develop an important channel for creating change. We stand with Justin as we know he stands for racial and economic justice.”
Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, 9768 Verree Road, will host a Meet the Candidates Brunch on Sunday, April 28, at 10 a.m.
The event is open to the community and free.
RSVP by calling 215-677-1600. ••